After Devastating Injury at UVa, Christian Hlinka Playing Well for Tom Sox
Christian Hlinka has been on the field with the Tom Sox this summer, and playing well, after missing his entire sophomore season with the UVa baseball team due to injury.
"You know sometimes the pencil breaks and you just have to scribble with the nibble," says Hlinka, with a laugh. "It's just a saying that I like."
It's also one of the sayings Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon got Major League Baseball players to say as a prank during the this summer.
Christian Hlinka has been playing at an All-Star level for the Tom Sox, after he fractured his talus bone in his right ankle in the fall of 2018.
"My (UVa) coaches were like, 'How do you feel about playing in Charlottesville this summer for the Tom Sox?' and I was like, 'Honestly that would be an awesome opportunity,'" says Hlinka.
The first baseman did not see the field for the Cavaliers last season, after batting .250 while playing in sixteen games as a true freshman.
"It was a frustrating time to overcome mentally and physically," says Hlinka. "I was in a boot and on crutches for a good amount of time, and having to rehab back. Getting back to running full speed, and being able to put that stress back on my body, that I was doing before."
Hlinka's recovery time was eight to nine months, he could only watch from the dugout during his second season with the 'Hoos.
"A huge learning curve and experience," says Hlinka. "I mean, it really came down to the coaches just had my back and supported me. They were like, 'We understand it's an injury and there's nothing you can do. We're really upset and frustrated that you can't play, and that you're not able to contribute to the team this year.' They wanted me to come back bigger, better, and stronger."
That's exactly what he is doing in the Valley Baseball League.
Hlinka is second on the Tom Sox with a .367 batting average. He is fourth in RBI (21), and tied for the lead in home runs (3).
"I think I've definitely made some big leaps and strides in my game," says Hlinka, "being able to get those reps in games, being able to get comfortable again, and kind of get that confidence back."
The Tom Sox will play their first game in the VBL playoffs on Sunday at 7pm at Cville Weekly Ballpark.